If you have been suffering from acne since you were a teenager, the problem is probably more than skin deep. Acne is a common symptom of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, also known as PCOS.
Acne can be devastating for our self-image and sometimes makes us feel embarrassed to leave the house at all or certainly without makeup to cover it up. It can have additional serious emotional consequences such as frustration, depression, and social withdrawal. Topical creams often have harsh side effects that may help in the short term but leave us frustrated over and over again with recurring bouts of acne. Whether you are a lifetime acne sufferer or are just experiencing it for the first time, know that there is hope and it is possible to achieve a clear and smooth complexion.
What causes acne?
The areas of your face that are especially affected with acne with PCOS are the lower half of the face such as the cheeks, jawline, chin, and upper neck. Inflammation and hormone imbalance are the big causes but there is also a bacteria called Propionibacterium that can cause an immune response resulting in acne. Here is a short list of causes:
- Insulin resistance (too much sugar in diet) – this can cause higher-than-normal male androgen levels
- Bacteria along with inflammation in the body
- Too much inflammation in general
Natural Ways to Treat PCOS-Related Acne – On the Inside
Clear up your acne by changing the food you eat. Food is powerful medicine for healing and chances are that the problem is more about what goes into your body than what you put on your skin. Reducing inflammation is key. Be patient and give it some time, at least 3 months, to see some lasting change.
- Adopt a gluten-free diet. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and grains such as barley, spelt, oats (the non-gluten free oats), and rye. A PubMed study shows that taking gluten out of the diet reduces inflammation and insulin resistance, the two biggest causes of acne. Does it seem impossible to remove gluten and wheat from your diet? We women love our bread, but it is possible to make substitutions that are both delicious and healthy for women with PCOS.
- Remove sugar and high glycemic carbohyrates (carbs) from your diet. Sugar is another dietary culprit responsible for causing acne due to its effect on blood sugar and a rise in male hormones. Studies show that diets high in sugar and high glycemic carbs, such as pasta, bread, cereal, sodas, no fat yogurt with sugar, fruit juice and even fruit, caused an increase in acne. If you have PCOS, studies have shown that when you eliminate sugar and reduce your intake of high glycemic carbs, your acne will start to improve.
- Switch out the dairy products. Dairy causes your body to increase the production of male hormones like testosterone and other androgens. It also is known to increase insulin. Every glass of milk contains the same kind of anabolic hormones that athletes use to grow their muscles. Do not be fooled with labels that say “hormone free” milk, because even organic and raw milk contain at least 60 hormones. In controlled trials, researchers discovered that drinking cow’s milk caused an increase in the severity of acne.
- Take probiotics to help reduce inflammation. Probiotics are fabulous for helping with hormone balance, because they restore healthy gut bacteria and help to restore digestive health – the starting point for improved overall health.
Natural Ways to Treat PCOS-Related Acne – On the Outside
- The botanical willow bark is a great alternative to salicylic acid, a standard ingredient in many topical acne medications. It works in the same way to exfoliate the skin, but without causing irritation and dryness. Try using a cleanser or a serum with willow bark as an ingredient.
- Apply green tea to your skin. Not only can you drink green tea to reap its benefits, but it can also be applied topically. By putting it on your skin, you are reducing oil production and protecting your skin from acne causing bacteria. Here’s how it works: Add two tablespoons of green tea leaves (or one tea bag) in a cup of boiling water and steep for 10 minutes, then once it cools use as a rinse. Plus, drinking green tea is effective at lowering inflammation.
- Australian tea tree oil is extremely effective for the treatment of PCOS-related acne. It is as effective as benzoyl peroxide, but without all of the harsh side effects such as dryness, redness, and irritation. Tea tree oil is an essential oil and will not clog your pores like fatty oils. This can be applied directly to the affected areas using a clean cotton ball or Q-Tip.
- Make a clay mask. Moroccan Rhassoul Clay is wonderful to use instead of retinol because it is much gentler on the skin. It can help draw out blackheads and other impurities from the skin which also makes it beneficial as a makeup remover or face wash. Rhassoul Clay is higher in minerals like magnesium, silica and potassium, leaving smooth skin. This mask is simple and easy to make at home. Start by mixing a teaspoon of Moroccan Rhassoul clay with warm water. Then, if your skin is oily, add in 1/4 teaspoon green tea leaves to the clay. If you have PCOS and experience redness and inflamed skin, mix in 1/4 teaspoon chamomile tea leaves. Brush or rub on the face and let dry before washing off. You can use either of these mask combinations daily. It’s a completely natural part of your PCOS acne skin regimen.
- Nutrients are also effective at healing acne. Supplementing your diet with extra much-needed nutrients is important because not having enough nutrients can cause hormone imbalance. Nutrients that help with improving insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar and balancing hormones are essential for reducing symptoms like acne. Chromium, cinnamon, vanadium, magnesium, Chaste Tree Berry, saw palmetto, lipoic acid and so much more can help reduce inflammation and balance hormones. Our supplements here contain all of these essential nutrients
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Your hormones and your diet play a large role in the appearance of your skin, which is the largest organ in your body. If PCOS-related adult acne has been plaguing you for years don’t despair because a blemish-free complexion is possible for you. These tips will leave you looking better and feeling more confident in your own skin.